A Journey Without Planned Destination: Traumatic Transmigration Experiences of Refugee Children

Author(s): Lawrence MEDA

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12134-016-0477-x

Abstract

There is a dearth of information pertaining to experiences that refugee children encounter on a journey to the host country (transmigration). This study is a presentation of transmigration experiences of Zimbabwean refugee children from their home country to South Africa. The study was guided by the following critical questions: What were refugee children’s transmigration experiences from Zimbabwe to South Africa, and why did they have those experiences? Kunz’s kinetic model of refugee flight and settlement was used as a theoretical framework. Informed by the paradigmatic position of interpretivism, the study was done using a qualitative case study of a school of refugees in South Africa. Twelve refugee children and four parents/guardians were purposively selected to participate in semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Data was analysed using content analysis. The study found that transmigration is a relatively major life event that is characterised by perilous and harrowing experiences to children. It is concluded that due to traumatising transmigration experiences that refugee children encounter, pseudo and fluid identities develop.

Keywords

Transmigration, Experiences, Refugees, Children, Trauma

Tags: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Children, Adolescents, Refugees, Traumatic life events, Transmigration, Journey, Migration, Identity

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